Anika Naporowska

Meet 3 young artists that perfect their craft in small sculptural forms The 6th Student Biennial Of Small Sculptural Forms 2021

The Magdalena Abakanowicz University of the Arts in Poznań (UAP) and its Faculty of Sculpture curated the 6th edition of the Student Biennial of Small Sculptural Forms 2021. The event is dedicated to commemorating the artistry and life of a Polish sculptor, Józef Kopczyński, whose works dispersed across the country, including such cities as Poznań, Warsaw, and Toruń. Also, the artist never parted ways with the UAP, where he learnt the craftsmanship and later, passed his knowledge to other aspiring students until 2006. 

At first, the competition was a local event held in the Town Gallery in Mosina in 2007. As more young artists from Poland and overseas became enthusiastic about the contest, the organizers transformed it into the students’ biennial. The motto of the event became Henry Moore’s quote: “only something very small and very big gives an extra experience of dimension.” 

The 6th edition of the biennial aims at boosting the participants’ artistic careers and shedding light on the interesting creative demeanours of students. Another goal was to promote small sculptural forms and artistic medals to the regional community and discuss a conflict of the trends in sculpture creation. The curators of the event were Dawid Szafrański, Izabela Grudzińska, and Martyna Pająk whereas the jury selected forty one contestants whose works were exhibited in Poznań’s Stary Browar. Jan Matusewicz, Kopczyński’s grandson, curated the accompanying exhibition titled “The Process of Shaping. From the Józef Kopczyński’s Archives.” 

On December 17th, 2021, during the vernissage, the jury announced the laureates of the biennial. Barbara Wojewoda attained a Grand Prix in the category called “Small Sculptural Forms.” Agata Bujnicka became a Grand Prix laureate in the “Medal and Relief” category with her work “Transformations.” Contemporary Lynx’s editorial team was among the jury committee and distinguished three young artists, Julita Antonowicz, Nicola Rajda, and Anika Naporowska. 

Julita Antonowicz

Julita Antonowicz presented an artwork titled “Insomnia” (Bezsenność). For that, the sculptor has crafted her unique technique using upholstery foam and felt cloth. While creating the sculpture, the artist sought materials that would deliver both haptic experience and visual dissonance. Julita produced seven elements of the sculpture in an uninterrupted sequence, which transformed her working days into a rigorous routine. Here is the point where the process of creation and the idea behind the artwork intertwine. The object consists of seven parts resembling seven monotonous, dull days of one week. Even though every element is different, they look disturbing and unrealistic in bulk. 

The artwork illustrates the reality that pushes an individual to act nonstop.

The 21st century and the pandemic have created all conditions for a person to be exploited. As an employee, they are bound to the real and virtual world where they must keep up with the latest news or trends and check their mail notifications as a part of a daily routine. Sometimes unconsciously, a person ignores the notion that they have already lost their freedom. The object “Insomnia” describes the future of restless and plain existence. The acquiring, digestion and transmission of information are the only tasks left to fulfil.

Julita started her artistic path at art school in Gdynia. There she practiced wood carving; although, soon the young artist realized that the traditional techniques and materials did not spark her interest anymore. Therefore, Julita enrolled at the University of the Arts in Poznań. Now, the sculptor works on her Master’s thesis in the 5th Studio of Sculpture and Spatial Activities, with the specialization in weaving. In the meantime, Julita has been exploring various forms of artistic expression and techniques while perfecting her craft in the university’s workshops. That is how she discovered that her passion for soft form and textile arts would never prevent her from experimenting in other fields. The sculptor reveals that she concentrates on different artistic problems. Simultaneously, she searches for the contexts, follows anthropological pieces of evidence or analyses the issues, which seem to be unrelated at first glance. These particular reasons motivate her to create sculptures and other artworks. 

Julita participated in the biennial, for she felt ready to present her artistry in front of a wider audience. The young sculptor revealed she enjoyed observing her work in the gallery space. Moreover, Julita shared her excitement with other colleagues whose sculptures were also displayed and recognized in the biennial. 

Julita aims to pursue her artistic path; although, she also admits that certain challenges are awaiting her. The aspiring sculptors need to find their visual expression, as it helps to communicate thoughts that are otherwise pronounced or written. That is why the search might be an endless journey. 

Nicola Rajda attended art school before starting her studies at the University of Fine Arts and Design in Katowice. For her, the sculpture creation and the biennial were a coincidence, as Nicola mainly specializes in design. She explains that it is a common thing for all first-year students to get acquainted with different art forms. That is where she got an opportunity to experiment with sculpture creation. 

When Nicola learnt about the competition, she did not hesitate for a moment to send her works to the jury. First, she had created the sculptures that fit the contest’s theme “Person – Plant – Animal”; and secondly, Sławomir Brzoza, a professor at ASP in Katowice, encouraged Nicola to participate. 

Nicola Rajda, Skin I
Nicola Rajda, Skin I

The young designer loves creating things and is usually inspired by the nature. The reference for the artwork sequence called “Skin” is her sphynx cat that always hangs around while Nicola plays with different materials and crafts objects. The artist’s aim was to focus on the visual aspect of the objects as if they were portrait shots; although there were no faces but different body parts in a frame. Also, the idea was to display the skin samples as if they were placed in laboratory glassware and examined under a microscope. They were made of porcelain and glazed; whereas the boxes, which imitate the Petri dish, were made of fibreboard. Consequently, the artwork titled “Skin I” was chosen for the biennial.  

The pandemic changed the working conditions. Nicola started her initial experiments with the prototypes at home during the lockdown. Later, she moved to the university’s workshop where she could use the acquired knowledge. Nicola says that the glazing process was the unexpected part as the colours changed from pink to green and also became more transparent due to the changes in temperature. 

Nicola believes that the biennial is an incredible opportunity for young artists to promote their artistry and foster connections with each other.

Rajda sees great potential in the creation of small sculptural forms because they are intricate objects that need a lot of attention from a creator.

However, she also acknowledges the existing challenges that artists face. For instance, it might be difficult to produce an artwork using a particular technique or it might be demanding to find a metaphor and use it to present the idea. 

As of now, Nicola does not have intentions to continue creating sculptures, as she is concentrating on her studies. She mostly devotes her time to evolve as a designer.

Anika Naporowska believes she would have navigated herself into sculpture one way or another, for it is the most adequate medium to express her sensitivity and imagination. In high school, the artist had her first contact with sculpture creation. Two years later, she enrolled at the UAP in Poznań. By the end of the first year of studies, she had a peculiar accident. The sculptor prepared for her portrait samples by pouring slip casting into the moulds; however, Anika removed one sculpture from a mould quicker than needed. The head was curved and deformed in such unpredictable ways as if it was dancing and swimming simultaneously. The outcome surprised Anika, as she did not expect her work to be hyperrealistic. Since that accident, the sculptor has been trying to display reality as false by reshaping it in her artworks. 

Anika Naporowska
Anika Naporowska

That is how the art piece “Carousel” (Karuzela) emerged. The sculpture creates an illusion of rotational movements, which display spiritual transgression and the misconception of objective cognition. Anika thinks that the title suits the work because a toy – a carousel – is propelled by a greater force and mass. Therefore, the object may become unrecognizable to the person on the carousel who only sees blurry images. The experience of the body set in a rotating motion strongly influences the perception, as the body and the spirit fuse together.

The sculptor started working on the object by creating a portrait of a model in clay. She deformed the face features as if they were affected by the imaginary force pulling the head across the vector. Then, Anika made a negative mould and clay impression ready for firing. To finish the head, Anika painted it with oil paint to create a smooth transition of colours that added a bit of elusiveness. The hardest part was making a steel structure, which adds to the circulating movement, as she had to attach the part of the head with the base and later, adjusted its height to intensify the illusion of the movement.

Anika decided to participate in the biennale because the contest takes place at her alma mater. However, she thinks that artworks cannot be compared with each other. On the contrary, the artist suggests creating art to deepen one’s true self rather than seeking appreciation and adoration from others. 

Anika would rather lose her ability to speak than her ability to create sculptures. The artist sees this art form as the highest level of self-expression, which lets her dive into the world of senses that she would not be able to explain verbally. The sculptor describes the process of creation as a phase where her logic is juxtaposed with contradictory concepts, which are understandable only to her. The greatest challenge of every artist is to be devoted to the sometimes toilsome and gruelling process of creation. Especially nowadays, it is difficult to oppose the cultural narrative that might discourage artists to keep following their paths. Anika firmly believes that human beings always strive for perfection. She perceives artistic creativity as an opportunity to explore the inner world that would be later materialized in an authentic way.

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About The Author


Anna Shostak holds a BA in English Philology from USWPS in Warsaw. She's a life-long admirer of languages, European art and culture. Anna is an English teacher who frequently introduces a piece of a literary text or fine art in her class.

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